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Saunton Sands beach, sand dunes and sea stretching into the distance

Accessible Beaches in North Devon

Fancy visiting a North Devon beach? Go for it, and don't let disability hold you back...

North Devon has some fantastic beaches that make great must-visit spots all year round. With plenty of ice cream, a refreshing sea breeze and the sun shining down (if you’re lucky), there’s nothing quite like a relaxing meander along the Devon coastline!

Everyone, no matter their abilities, should be able to enjoy the seaside views and coastal activities that North Devon has in abundance. If you’re embarking on an accessible holiday in Devon, why not check out some of the lovely spots that we mention below?

Westward Ho!

The beach and coastal town of Westward Ho! are famed for being the only place in the UK to have an exclamation point in its name. The name comes from the book by Charles Kingsley, a popular novel from the 19th century that inspired a new wave of tourism to Bideford and the surrounding areas.

Equally as iconic as the name is the pebble ridge – the stretch of pebbles at the top of the beach that acts as a sea natural defence. This ridge makes an impressive visual spectacle but can be challenging to clamber over. For easier access down to the sandy beach below, there is a gentle slipway, giving wheelchair users and those with reduced mobility a more accessible way down.

Dogs are very welcome on the beach, but there may be some restrictions as to which areas you can take your dog during the summer months, so make sure to check the signs on arrival.

There are plenty of beachside cafes and eateries, perfect for when you need a bit of refreshment after you’ve admired the waves and sands. You will also find access to accessible toilets.

Some rocks in the foreground, an expanse of sand leading to the white of the ocean waves in the background with blue sky above.

Westward Ho! Beach

 

Saunton

The scenery at the Saunton beaches is incredibly diverse, with vast stretches of soft sands, impressive dunes and a collection of rock pools to enjoy. The beach is popular with families, surfers and pretty much anyone who likes to spend their days making the most of the natural world around us!

There is a range of shops, food outlets and toilet facilities with accessibility before you get down to the beach via a concrete ramp. Getting from the ramp onto the beach can be more difficult as there is a small lip that leads onto very soft sand.

To make getting to the beach more accessible, the Saunton Beach shop has three Landeez beach wheelchairs and two NOMAD all-terrain wheelchair carriages available to hire on a half-day, daily or weekly basis.

Saunton is dog-friendly and only asks that you keep dogs on their lead in more heavily crowded areas like around the slipway.

Saunton Sands beach, sand dunes and sea stretching into the distance

Saunton Sands

 

Tunnels Beaches

The coastal town of Ilfracombe is full of unique charm, with Tunnels Beaches being one of the main attractions – aside from the 66-foot harbour-side statue of a pregnant woman designed by Damien Hurst!

Because of its stunning seas, gorgeous views and rich history, the beach here is also a popular location for weddings. It is a privately owned and maintained beach, meaning there is a small fee to enter.

Despite the dramatic views, the landscape isn’t too difficult to navigate as the tunnels after which the beach is named are either paved or concrete, and a gentle slope takes you down to the main beach.

Dogs can accompany you in the tunnels but must be kept off the beach. There are accessible toilets near the site.

An aerial view of Ilfracombe town, with pink flowers in the foreground and sea surrounding the land.

An aerial view of Ilfracombe

Woolacombe

Another one of North Devon’s quaint seaside towns, Woolacombe is home to three miles of glorious golden sands and lively waves. The spot that lies between Morte Point and Baggy Point is a favourite amongst families and surfers.

The beach holds many awards and is renowned for its natural beauty, cleanliness and great facilities. The beach itself is accessed by two short slopes – you can also hire an all-terrain mobility scooter or beach wheelchair from the Tourist Information Centre.

Dogs are allowed on the beach at certain times of the year and may be restricted as to where they can go. South of Mill Rock is free of restriction for your four-legged friends all year round.

Local amenities include a range of beachside cafes, pubs and shops. There are also accessible toilets available.

Grass in the foreground and rocks before the white water waves of the ocean, leading out to headland in the background.

Woolacombe Bay Beach

 

Croyde Bay

Just a little way off Woolacombe, you will find the scenic Croyde Bay. Set between two headlands and framed by the lush green hills of the Devon countryside, Croyde is the perfect spot to soak up spectacular views and fresh sea air.

The shore boasts fine, golden sands backed by rolling dunes. It is another popular spot for surfers and swimmers, with lots of surf schools perfect for beginners – Croyde is rated among the best surfing beaches in the world.

The easiest access to the beach can be found at the north end, where there is a carpark that leads to a short-sloping path suitable for wheelchairs which takes you to the sand. A Changing Places toilet and changing facilities can also be found here, thanks to the work of the local community group Access For All.

If you’re interested in having a go at surfing, give Wave Project a call, who make surfing accessible and are based at Surf South West in Croyde.

Orange and yellow heathland spread out in the foreground, meeting sand and ocean, with green headland in the background.

Croyde Bay

Hiring Beach Wheelchairs in North Devon

Even if there are ramps and slopes offering an easy way to get down to a beach, navigating the uneven terrain and softer sands can still present challenges if you’re using a mobility aid – this is where beach wheelchair hire comes in!

Thanks to the Countryside Mobility Scheme, many beaches and other more rural locations around North Devon are equipped to provide wheelchair hire, allowing everyone to access and admire Devon’s beautiful countryside.

To find out more about how to hire manual or electric beach wheelchairs or carriages, or for wheelchair accessible paths around North Devon, check out our other blogs below.

Many beaches will have official websites for tourists and visitors outlining their local amenities and giving more details about what to expect upon your visit. Before making your way to the beach, it can often be a good idea to get in touch with the relevant tourist information centre.

Have you been to any of these wonderful beach locations yet? Tell us about your experience on our Facebook page, or let us know if we missed your favourite spot!

More blogs…